ACARA has developed senior secondary Australian Curriculum for English, Mathematics, Science and History according to a set of design specifications. The ACARA Board approved these specifications following consultation with state and territory curriculum, assessment and certification authorities.
The senior secondary Australian Curriculum specifies content and achievement standards for each senior secondary subject. Content refers to the knowledge, understanding and skills to be taught and learned within a given subject. Achievement standards refer to descriptions of the quality of learning (the depth of understanding, extent of knowledge and sophistication of skill) expected of students who have studied the content for the subject.
The senior secondary Australian Curriculum for each subject has been organised into four units. The last two units are cognitively more challenging than the first two units. Each unit is designed to be taught in about half a 'school year' of senior secondary studies (approximately 50–60 hours duration including assessment and examinations). However, the senior secondary units have also been designed so that they may be studied singly, in pairs (that is, year-long), or as four units over two years.
State and territory curriculum, assessment and certification authorities are responsible for the structure and organisation of their senior secondary courses and will determine how they will integrate the Australian Curriculum content and achievement standards into their courses. They will continue to be responsible for implementation of the senior secondary curriculum, including assessment, certification and the attendant quality assurance mechanisms. Each of these authorities acts in accordance with its respective legislation and the policy framework of its state government and Board. They will determine the assessment and certification specifications for their local courses that integrate the Australian Curriculum content and achievement standards and any additional information, guidelines and rules to satisfy local requirements including advice on entry and exit points and credit for completed study.
The senior secondary Australian Curriculum for each subject should not, therefore, be read as a course of study. Rather, it is presented as content and achievement standards for integration into state and territory courses.